Sad Day at Work

When you work in a toxicology lab, there are certain statistics that interest you. We recently had a spate of fatal self-poisonings, and wanted to know why there was a rise in incidence. There also seem to be a particular group of toxins used repeatedly. There are about five recurring poisons, some of which can be made at home accounting for their frequent use. The ingredients are easy to acquire and little effort is necessary to turn them into sources of death. The first I want to mention is ricin, a very deadly one derived from plants. It is very harmful and a favorite murder weapon among those who know that it is tasteless and odorless. It need not be disguised. All you need are castor oil beans and some solvent to break down the oils and fats. The method of death is to inhale or ingest ricin as a fine dust. The body’s immune system suffers from an uncontrollable infection.

Next in popularity is rotten meat poison produced obviously from bad meat and excrement to produce a botulinum toxin. This word gives me chills as it is one of the most toxic poisons known to man. I hate to even bring it up. Now that I have enumerated five common suicide culprits, my thoughts are turning to other matters. Why is depression on the rise? It is the cause of taking one’s life and it can be related to a loss of a loved one, ill health, anxiety and hopelessness. If a person is not treated, he or she may feel it is time to end it all. In addition, there is a little known fact that a lack of sufficient sunlight can cause serious depression, according to Be Right Light. It is treatable fortunately by relocating or with light therapy. This has been the successful answer in countries with a dark climate like Sweden, Finland, and Norway. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, can be experienced in many other parts of the world. No wonder many people travel in winter to sunny lands.

The last that I will talk about here is potato poison. It is less toxic than ricin, yet super deadly if you eat enough of it. You can put it in food or drink and it will cause convulsions, lung shutdown, and even a coma. It is frightful. Many use nicotine injected or ingested. It produces a lethal shock to the body and paralyzes brain function leading to coma and ultimately death. Most of you have heard of our third example: cyanide. It can be used as a gas causing respiratory malfunction and immediate death. Let me give you some details. It can be extracted from apples, peaches, plums, or apricots using their leaves and seeds. A homemade version involves grinding and heating the ingredients. I wonder what was used at Jonestown that was added to the cool aid. This was the worst case of mass cyanide poisoning in history.